SET UP YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM

And your first aquarium You do not know where to start and you think it is complicated In this article we will give you all the information you are looking for and we will follow you in the first steps in this wonderful world: you will discover for yourself how easy it is thanks to this guide created by the forum ofdi Easy aquarium  and to which we advise you to subscribe!


You came across our site by chance and got enticed. Or a friend tried you:«Try it, it's easy!». Or the wife whispered irresistibly into your ear «You know, a beautiful aquarium would look great in the living roomo»…

Ok, let's go. But how???

The choice of the aquarium, the filter, the bottom, the fish The maturation, the nitrites, the nitrates, the razor clams, the sponges And then the biotopes, the ranges, the community aquariums, the values to which a fish can stay and another no no…

Help!! And who can find out more!!?

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Up Don't do that. We will help you !!!!

If you have recently approached the world of aquariuma this article is for you !

We are pleased to introduce you…

…the encyclopedic compendium for the neophyte ofi Easy aquarium!

In this article we will dissect and simplify the most difficult topics, those that often cause the greatest uncertainties in those who would like to set up their first aquarium.

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Step by step we will give you the tools to immediately face what, in all probability, will be a wonderful adventure which will accompany you for many years and will give you great satisfaction.

The article is aimed mainly at newbies and uses simplifications, examples and jokes to lighten the reading. The aim is to clarify sometimes complex concepts such as, for example, the chemistry of water. Do not want the experts, the savvy and the gurus of the godsei Nitrosomonas

L’Easy aquarium it's for anyone!

The discussion is divided into chapters. Our advice is to read the whole article calmly and patiently.. Enjoy the reading!

Size matters!!

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But what did you understand The dimensions of the aquarium !!!o!!!

Jokes aside…

After hours and hours of discussions with the wife, the girl, the brother, the sister, the parrot, you have finally decided to set up your first aquarium.io.

Good choice! Lacquariofilia is a beautiful passion, which will surely give you a lot of satisfaction..

You've probably gone online, typed aquarium setup and e…

ALLESTIRE IL TUO PRIMO ACQUARIO - Passione Animali (5) … open up Heaven!

You literally have been swept up from a series of words: maturation, nitrogen cycle, nitrite, nitrate, biotope, communityà…

You will have understood little or nothing of what you have read…

Do not worry! We too, when we first approached the aquarium, we found ourselves in the exact same situation..

This is because most experienced aquarists fill their writings with scientific formulas and terms that are incomprehensible to most people.e.

If we then add the fact that all this soup of big words is not followed by any explanation… the fat is in the fire!

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For me with onions, thank you…

So let's start from the beginning, from the very first thing to do, that is…

… the choice of the first aquarium!

We often hear that an aquarium is better to start small .

This is the greatest idiocy that has ever been pronounced.

A small volume aquarium is very harder to manage than a big one. The reason is very simple: pollutants can do more damage in little water, where they are very concentrated.i.

If they are well diluted they are often harmless. Sometimes even useful! But we will see this later.

Returning to the concentration of pollutants. If you accidentally put a teaspoon of salt in this bathtubno…

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… you would notice it?

We think not! Try putting it instead the same amount of salt in a normal coffee cup.

We don't taste it, we wait for you to tell us how good that coffee was!

The aquarium works the same way..

Each fish excretes feces and urine which pollute the water. But if in 300 liters the droppings of a fighting fish (Betta splendens) are irrelevant, in 10 liters they can have effects disastrous!

However…

… in a gigantic aquarium, siphoning, pruning and water changes become quite difficult to perform. Of course, if you don't want to dive into the aquarium to clean!e!

So, if you don't want to shrink like Fantozzi in the famous film, be regular!

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We promote a method that involves as few interventions as possible but water changes sometimes have to be done anyway..
Try to make a change of 20 on 1000 liters or to prune a forest ofi Carolinian cabombain an aquarium 80 centimeters high!

It will certainly not be as tiring as working ten hours in the mine , but we dare you to say that it is not a pain in the ass!

Concluding:

Don't buy a very small aquarium , but don't even get excited about that cheap second-hand aquarion you found!ato!

While a small aquarium is difficult to manage for some reasons, one that is too large for others.  We recommend starting as your first aquarium with a 100-200 liters .

Illuminatione

Generally the standard lighting of the aquariums is insufficient to cultivate various species of plants on the market. However, this does not mean that we have to recreate the lighting of a football stadium at home.o.

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Come on, let's not exaggerate…

We can always think of increasing it later, or orient ourselves towards less demanding plants.

Since specific aquarium systems usually cost a lot, a solution to supplement or replace the standard light is to use the normal CFL bulbs : they cost very little and can be found in any lighting shop and, even if they are not intended for aquariums, they work very well..

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 Additional CFLs

Also fluorescent tubes (commonly called neon, you can buy them at the supermarket..

The difference between these lights and those sold by your dealer is only one: the price . Typically, specific aquarium products cost significantly more than their generic equivalents. When buying CFLs or neon, we recommend those of cold white color on the package the inscription 6500 K is shown because they emit the best light for plant growth.ante.

In this article, written by and byEasy aquarium, you can find all the information you want to clarify your ideas: Fluorescent lamps in the aquarium.

Speaking of lighting, the brand deserves a special note Juwel .
If you decide to buy an aquarium from this company you will not be able to buy the neon from the hardware store, because Juwel produces them of a particular size that is not produced by any other company apart from Dennerle and JBL.L).
The neons of the Dennerle they cost the same as Juwel's, but last longer and some claim they are best for plants.
The neons JBL , on the other hand, they cost more.
Attention : we do not want to advertise positive or negative for this or that company. We just think it's best to have this information before to buy a Juwel aquarium rather than having surprises after .

Technology is gaining momentum lately LED . We could have stayed behind. Certainly not! And in fact we have published the article, byi Easy aquarium, called LED in the aquarium which describes them in detail.

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LED bars

While for CFLs or neons it is perfectly fine to use only those at 6500 K, for LED the best results are obtained using together different color temperatures such as warm white 3000 K, natural white 4500 K and cool white 6000-6500 K, perhaps complemented by blue and red.rosso.

Also the quality of the LEDs matters a lot: the higher the lumens per watt ratio, the better their quality; to calculate it, simply divide the lumen value by the watts indicated on the package or on the specifications.

This ratio, in fact, can vary from LED to LED in a range that goes from 30 to 200 lumen / watt. We can consider good LEDs those that have a ratio greater than 70/80 lumen / watt in practice the same ratio of normal CFLs.).

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers of aquariums and LED ceiling lights indicate the total lumens and we often find ourselves with cheap but unsatisfactory lighting. To overcome this problem, some users of the Easy aquarium they decided to do it yourself and on their portal you will find several examples.

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Here, maybe let's pay attentione…

If you have the need to increase enlightenment and don't know how to do it, don't worry! On the forum ofi Easy aquarium you will find the section DIY where you will be followed step by step.

As the photo above reminds us, however, always remember that we are talking about electricity.

If you have no skills or you are not practical, always get help from someone.

The filter

In their habitat, if the water conditions are unfavorable, the fish can move away in search of a better and cleaner place. In the confined space of an aquarium this is not possible..

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The waste products of the fish, what we have called«pollutants», they must therefore be treated and somehow eliminated. The high toxicity of some wastes indeed can evena kill fish.

For example, ammoniaa (contained in fish urine or feces, or derived from the decomposition of the food we put in the tank is è extremely toxic, particularly when the water is hard and alkaline..

Some bacteria present in our aquariums are capable of turning ammonia inton nitrites .

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No, the neighing of the horses has nothing to do with itte…

These, while less toxic, can still cause problems for fish, even in relatively low concentrations like 0.3 mg / L.
Fortunately, other bacteria have the ability to oxidize nitrites by turning them into nitrates , the concentration of which must exceed about 25/50 mg / L to constitute a serious threat to the most delicate species. Many species, on the other hand, tolerate nitrates even in higher quantities, although we advise you not to exaggerate: in some cases they could favor the growth of algae.

The filter provides these bacteria with ideal support to develop and do their job.

Without going into the details of the various types of internal, external, backpack, air filters, we limit ourselves to saying that a good filter should include both la mechanical filtration (obtained through sponges and / or perlon wool whiche biological (obtained with the use of razor clams.).
It is therefore not recommended to choose filters that do not allow both filtration modes; beware by those who offer you filters without razor clams for tanks with even only medium biological loads. The risk is that the biological filtering is insufficient or that it becomes so when you are forced to clean the sponges because they are clogged. Only tanks with very low biological load, for example the single species tanks dedicated toe Caridina or microfish can work well with small filters and only filled with sponges or with air filters..

Below we will tell you a little bit about filters but, for any doubts, we advise you to turn to the section Technique of the forum ofEasy aquarium and read the articlefor filter selection.

Mechanical filtration

This is achieved by using thea filter wool , which is the finest grain material inside the filter..

lana di perlon
 Filter wool or perlon

It is made up of very thin synthetic filaments that form a cloth.

It is usually sold in bags, very similar to cotton wool packages. You do attention not to confuse them: cotton wool not good as filter wool because it clogs easily and blocks the flow of water..

Its function in the filter is to collect the suspended particles and stop them, so that they do not clog the other filter materials.

Mechanical / biological filtration

The sponges they are the most versatile filter material there is. At the beginning of the history of aquarium filtration it was the only material used..

Spugne filtranti
 Filter sponges

The razor clams did not exist yet, often there were not even electric pumps and aerators were used to move the water inside the air filter filter; but the sponges were already there.à lì.
This is because they combine functions of their own gods biological filter materials with a good one mechanical filtration . They are found on the market different types of sponges : coarse-grained, fine-grained, denitrifying, with adsorbent carbon. They invented all kinds of them, especially after the advent of sintered glass materials. Without going into too much detail, let's say that it is always a good idea to try to put variegated materials inside the filter and sponges do not escape this rule..

So, if you can, it is good to put at least two types of sponge : usually one with larger meshes is one with tighter meshes; the one with larger meshes will retain the larger residues while the other will not only retain the smaller ones but will reduce the flow rate of the water favoring the settlement of bacteria.ri.

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Don't expect miracles though as regards the biological filtration of sponges. The settlement area available for bacteria it is scarce , when compared to what sintered glass materials such as razor clams provide.

Biological filtration

The razor clams they are the most used supports for biological filtration.

Cannolicchi ceramici
 Ceramic razor clams

Their appearance has revolutionized the world of filtration, allowing to dispose of biological loads unthinkable with sponge filters. Together with the bioballs plastic balls with many slots wereti the first and the most imitated supports for biological filtration.

These materials have a useful surface for the monstrous bacterial settlement. Their microholes are a real oneo omniconfort condominium for our friends, bacteria that creep into them and find their ideal habitat there. And they take root there in immoderate quantities.

This allows the biological loads to be disposed of very effectively in a confined space ; to have ultra-compact and at the same time very efficient filters.

However, we must pay attention that no foreign particles enter the micropores. For this reason, the razor clams should never be used as the first filter material, otherwise they would quickly clog up losing most of their effectiveness..

Chemical filtration

One of the thorniest arguments regarding aquarium filtration is undoubtedly the chemical filtration .
Many aquarists cringe at the idea of using resins or similar materials because they are unnatural. Indeed, if the aquarium wants to be as faithful a representation as possible of ai un ecosystem eliminating waste products with chemicals is a contradiction.o.

Spugna ai carboni attivi
 Activated carbon sponge

However, chemical filtration allows to keep the tanks healthy overcrowded , or to eliminate from the watera toxic substances or that have accumulated due to one incorrect management .

Not to mention the removal of medicines when you are forced to use them.

We propose a natural management of the aquarium; for this we advise you to di remove from the carbon filter and various resins and to use them only in case of actual need .

If you use them, keep in mind that the adsorbing power runs out in a short time; so if you have to use them again, you need to replace them.

But then the filter is needed!!

Sure! And also the fill ordero has its importance:

  1. wool and sponges they must be at the beginning of the flow, in order to intercept all the solid particles in suspension before they reach the razor clams. Their order is always very controversial. Most prefer to put the wool first, then the sponges, in order to favor a greater settlement of bacteria inside the sponges themselves.e.
  2. Then we will put the razor clams (or anything that can perform its function..
  3. Finally, if necessary, we will put the materials for the chemical filtration .
Schema semplificato di un filtro
Simplified diagram of a filter

There are those who argue thate the correct order for the filter materials is: large sponge, fine sponge, perlon wool and finally razor clams in order to allow to retain the residues starting from the largest ones..
This positioning is equally valid with respect to that shown in the previous figure; there is no better solutione of another regardless but it is better to evaluate it case by case based on the type of filter..

Now that you know all about the filter how about onen Aquarium without filter It can be done!e!

However, since a bit of experience and knowledge of what happens in the aquarium is required,, we do not feel like recommending it to those who approach this splendid hobby for the first time.

The heater

This is perhaps one of the topics that is less often addressed when deciding to set up an aquarium. However, too the heater has its function and for some types of fish it is a fundamental accessory.

It has the function of raising the water temperature up to the set value and keeping it constante avoiding thermal changes ; if the water temperature drops, it turns on and stays on until it has been brought back to the value chosen for accuracy: it turns off at a temperature slightly higher than the set temperature. So it will only consume electricity when it is turned on. We can leave it connected even during the summer season: the high temperature will not turn it on.re.

But the heater is needed? Not always, it depends on the fish we choose.


But who said I like the coldo

There are various species of fish such as goldfish, to mention the best known which can tolerate temperatures even around 12/14 C without problems; on the other hand, other tropical species live better with a constant temperature that does not drop below 22/24 C.2/24 °C.

In the case of particularly large aquariums or with particularly delicate fish, such as the Discus, it may be useful to place two heaters on opposite sides of the aquarium to better diffuse the heat and minimize the risk of failure..

For the purchase we are spoiled for choice among the different ones that can be found on the market.o.

If we have the aquarium in the house it is difficult for the difference between the temperature of the room and the one we want to keep in the water to exceed 10 C; in this case it will be sufficient to choose one with a power of approxca 1 watt per liter of aquarium water.o.
If our aquarium will be placed in a poorly heated place such as a cellar or a garage it is better that it is a little more powerful, let's say aroundo a 1.2 / 1.5 watts per liter .

Also your position it's important.
Many stock filters already have the appropriate space to contain it but, if not, the best location is near the outlet or inlet of the filter itself. The important thing is that it is in an area with a constant and continuous flow of water.inuo.
If the heater you buy is also fully submersible beware, not all of them are) we advise you to place it horizontally: since the hot water tends to rise and the cold water to descend, we will evenly heat a larger area..

Like all electrical appliances it can suffer from malfunctions .

One of the most common problems is the calibration of the thermostat : if this happens, we will find a different temperature in the tank, even several degrees, compared to the one we had set and therefore we thought we had. We have read several topics from users who, after setting the thermostat to 26 C, found the water at 30 C.°C.

In this case there is no need to change the heater by spending money; it's enough use a thermometer reliable to understand how much the thermostat is set and adjust accordingly. In the previous example it is sufficient to set the thermostat to 22 C to obtain the desired temperature of 26 C.°C.

But what if the thermostat it stops working? In this case it can always remain off, causing the temperature to drop but, if we do not have particularly delicate fish, there are no big risks.
If it gets stuck in position always on it will continue to heat the water to temperatures that can create problems for most of the animals in the tank..

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Help! They promised me not to boil…

To avoid these problems it is sufficient, from time to time, check the temperature of water with a different thermometer..

In this way we will notice any malfunctions in time and could run for cover.

If you have to remove it from the aquarium remember toi unplug : in contact with the colder external air it could ignite and, as there is no water to cool it,o, break the glass for the strong heat.

Where do I put the aquariumo?

It seems obvious! Where there is space, no!?!?

Mistaken!

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If your name is not Atlante, read carefully!!

Unfortunately, this is not so simple, because the aquarium is not an empty piece of furniture: it contains water and life, it weighs a lot and has some needs to consider before being installed..

So to avoid you in the future great trouble, such as having to move it when it is already started, let's spend a few words on its correct positioning.

A 100-liter aquarium A medium-small aquarium weighs about 100 kilos of water alone. If we add at least 20 kilos of bottom, another 20 of glass, some furniture, lampsde…
You understand well that it is much better place it immediately in the right place, rather than having to move it later. Not to mention that a started tank, once emptied, risks losing the bacteria necessary for its proper functioning.

But where do we put it then?

Meanwhile, let's start from where don't put it:

  • If it is a large aquarium, better not to put it in the middle of a room , especially if you are not staying on the ground floor. The risk of the weight exceeding the load allowed by the slab is high, as construction standards usually give a static load of around 200 kilos per square meter.
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Watch out for the weight of the tub!

You are likely to find your aquarium in your neighbor's living room below.

If you have a heavy aquarium, we advise you to check the permissible load of your slab with a surveyor and in any case to position it along a load-bearing wall, perhaps above a load-bearing beam. Thinking that the floor will hold up to anything is the most common mistake you can make..

  • Do not place the aquarium near a radiator. During the winter you risk cooking the fish.i.
  • Avoid areas where the sun shines directly, for example in front of a south-facing window. Unless you know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it; direct light can in fact lead to the proliferation of algae.
  • Beware of drafty windows and other sources of hot-cold such as an air conditioner; unless you are very sure you can manage its temperature and not cause sudden changes in temperature in the aquarium..
  • Do not place the aquarium on a fragile, antique or worm-eaten piece of furniture. Nothing worse than a piece of furniture that gives way to spend a whole weekend collecting water, gravel, broken glass and dead fish as well as risking a divorce for just cause.a). Make sure the media is suitable . If in doubt, reinforce the uprights with steel bars, or purchase a suitable support..
  • Do not place the aquarium behind the doors, which may hit us if there is a current; or in narrow corridors where children skateboard.d. It must be a sheltered place, sheltered from various clashes and accidents.i.

The places where we can put the aquarium are reduced and, essentially, include::

  • the areas close to the load-bearing walls;
  • the quiet rooms;
  • the temperature-controlled areas of the house;
  • areas away from direct light.

If you follow these little precautions, the aquarium will end up in the ideal place to be observed throughout the day, in a comfortable area during the day and at night, warm in winter and cool in summer, perfect for placing a nice armchair in front of us and enjoying it to the full without having to move it.are. Ideal! 

The protagonist of the aquariumo

You have chosen your first aquarium, the right size, placed on a sturdy support and in a suitable place in the house. Perfect…

And now!! What do we put in!o?!?

To choose the guests of your aquarium we suggest you to choose a protagonist .

It doesn't have to be a fish, it can also be a plant; in fact there are many enthusiasts who dedicate an aquarium to’Alternanthera reineckii «Cardinalis» about which you can read on the forum ofEasy aquarium by clicking on the name of the plant.

Alternanthera Cardinalis
 Alternanthera Cardinalis

Or it can be an invertebrate: recently, for example, the breeding ofle Caridina.

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Caridina

But if you really prefer that fish are your protagonists, you are spoiled for choice. Just remember that each of them has their own needs for bothi space that of environmental conditions , then carefully evaluate the choice without running into the classic mistakes of like I take it or of so much it is small.lo».

Many fish, small when you buy them, can quickly become too big for the space you have.

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…and there are those who say that I can fit in a glass bowlo

Many newbies, taken by enthusiasm and often advised by bad shopkeepers, put a lot of species in their aquariums. It's the worst thing you can do!

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Putting it together too many different species , even if they come from the same habitat, there is a risk of not being able to fully satisfy their individual needs. Even if two fish live in the same river, they hardly find themselves occupying the same ecological niche.

In any case, before deciding around which one«queen species» you want to build your own aquarium and which combinations may be suitable, we suggest you use the section Your first aquarium of the forum ofEasy aquarium.

Here always some of their useful articles to start the adventure::

Once the queen species has been chosen, we will complete the aquarium according to its needs; for example, we will choose all the other plant and / or animal species to combine.re.
To help you, we recommend reading this article:Biotopo aquarium What is a biotopo?po?

Before moving on to the next topic, allow us a digression on the so-called«cleaner fish».

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You really think he does the cleaning?

They are fish that live mainly on the bottom but are not scavengers or cleaners at all. They have to eat like other fish and get dirty just like other fish.sci.

There are no fish that can keep the aquarium clean in our placeo . The aquarium is kept clean with proper management, not with fish or other animals that hopefully can do it for us..

It is also often said to consider in the choice 1 or 2 liters of water for every centimeter of fish. Put like this would seem like an indication of common sense but think about what would happen if you put a 50 cm carp, or two 25 cm piraña, in a 100 liter aquarium.i?


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Exactly what you are thinking about would happeno…

The stagingo

You have finally found your queen species: now it's time to set up the first aquarium.o.

The bottom

Wandering around the shops you will surely have seen the most disparate types of background and had the most different advice:

«If you want to put the plants you must necessarily take a fertilized bottom»

«Use the Akadama which is perfect for the fish you havei»

«Manado is the best fund possible, you cultivate anything without problems»

«With the inert bottom you can only put plastic plants»

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Here we go again: doubts return and we don't know how to decide. So let's start with a very brief description of various types of bottom ,   with all related articles ofEasy aquarium:

  • Akadama : it is an allophan fund. That is, it has the characteristic of retaining most of the nutritional elements that are inserted into the water; once saturated it will then tend to release them making them available. It is considered a very good long-term fund, but at first it will take you a little bit to struggle to maintain stable values; above all the hardness will tend to continuously lower forcing us to change the water to reintroduce the absorbed elements. More details and explanations can be found in this article:olo: Akadama and other allophanic lands in the aquarium. If you decide for this type of fund, consider that not all Akadama are the same; those that show a double red band on the package are the most valuable, but they cost more.
  • Manado : is the trade name that the German company JBL gave to the natural fired clay. It is not an allophanic fund like the Akadama; rather it is an excellent drainage base that allows you to fertilize only in water: the nutrients will still reach the roots. Initially it tends to release calcium and other elements causing the GH value to rise; which will force us to make several water changes to keep it at the desired values. Those interested in learning more can readggere The Manado in the aquarium: this unknown.
  • Fertile or fertilized backgroundo) : there are now many types of each brand and have the characteristic of containing excellent fertilizers for plant growth. The problem is that some of these fertilizers are also released into the water, altering its values and making fertilization more complicated. Over time, once all the nutrients it contained have been released, the fertile bottom becomes a normal inert bottom; if we do not want to dismantle the aquarium to change it we can use NPK pads or sticks to recharge it.o».
  • Inert bottom : It is the easiest fund to find and simpler to manage. It does not contain any fertilizer and does not absorb any nutrients from the water. Its advantage is the extreme ease of management especially for a novice: it does not require special precautions to be followed. For plants that feed from the roots it will be sufficient to use NPK tabs or sticks which, as we have seen, in the long run will also be used for fertile funds.li).

There are obviously numerous other types of bottom , among which we remember the volcanic lapilli and the Gravelit. First-time users might start with a inert bottom : for this purpose it is almost always good for dark gravel of small grain size (3/5 mm..
The dark background has two advantages main: stresses the fish less unlike the clear bottom and hides the dirt that will inevitably form.e.

Attention : if you choose bottom fish they prefer it sandy . For example Corydoras is Pangio they pass the time rooting for the bottom, moving it with the barbels and with the gravel they could get injured.

Woods and rocks

To complete the set-up and give a personal touch to the aquarium we cannot miss a fewhe wood and maybe even some rock .
In specialized shops we can find them of all shapes and types but we can also think of collecting them directly in the natural environment by taking a trip..

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Whether you buy them in-store or collect them yourself, they are there some indications which is best to follow.

Not all rocks are good for all aquariums. Some contain high amounts of calcium which is released into the water increasing the hardness. To check if a rock is calcareous, just pour a little Viakal or rather muriatic acid on it: if it fry it is.lo è.

A limestone rock it is not to be discarded a priori . It can be useful for maintaining high pH and hardness in an African cichlid aquarium; or to prevent the collapse of KH and therefore of the pH in an Amazonian aquarium. Its use must therefore be assessed on a case-by-case basis, as needed.à.
Be careful Rocks sold in aquarium shops can also be calcareous.

The story of the rocks is different found by the sea . Most likely contain sodium which they have absorbed while in contact with salt water; will be released once inserted in our aquarium. Later we will deepen the discussion of sodium in the aquarium..

Here is a guide ofEasy aquarium which may be useful for choosing the rocks: The rocks in the aquarium.

Unlike the rocks, the woods purchased in the store they can be inserted without particular problems in the aquarium. We also recommend that you wash them thoroughly and boil them for a few hours.

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If, on the other hand, you decide to collect them during your outing, the choice becomes important: the woods must have one consistency such as not to rot in a short time once immersed.

It is also important that they are collected in areas not polluted and not subjected to chemical treatments .

To help you in your choiceEasy aquarium wrote this guide which we hope will be useful to you: Use of wood collected in nature in the aquarium.

In any case their forum section of Preparation and Aquascaping is available to give you all the advice you need.

Plants

In the management of an aquarium, plants play a fundamental role and should never be missing. Be wary of those who tell you that maintaining them is difficult, expensive and requires a lot of maintenance and recommend plastic plants. Nothing more wrong !!!

Acquario con piante di plastica

A typical aquarium shown at the fair…

Vegetables absorb numerous substances present in the water released by the decomposition of feed and feces. What is a pollutant for fish becomes food for them: this is why they allow us to reache a stable balance is protect the health of fish . Furthermore counteract the growth of algae .

Not all plants are equally effective from this point of view, a lot depends on their speed of growth. To set up a balanced aquarium it is very important to insert plants a rapid growth : the slow ones affect much less on the micro environment we are going to create. Their use will be mostly for decorative purposes in order to complete the layout we want.

Plants also provide hiding places and shelters to fish.

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Who spies my wife?

Once the queen species has been chosen, we can choose the damsel plants by browsing this article of di Easy aquarium:Aquarium plants and their areas of origine.

It should also be considered that some plants are allelopathic , that is, they release compounds called allelochemicals that inhibit the development of their competitors in the same environment. You can check the possible allelopathies using this article also written by the forum mentioned above:a: Allelopathy among aquarium plantso.

The difference between a plastic planted aquarium and a planted aquarium is enormous. On the forum, which undertook to write this article, you can see several competitions of AF.

If you have doubts that plants are really essential in the aquarium, you can read what the doctor said Diana Walstad some time ago in his famous article: Plants vs. translation filters by Diana Walstadd).

An exception to this concept of heavily planted aquariums i Malawi is Tanganyika  which we will talk about later.

But now let's see how we can meet the needs of plants in a simple and economical way.

Illuminatione

We have seen how lighting as standarde is normally insufficient to satisfy the needs of the most demanding plants.

To get an idea of the necessary lighting we can use the followingte rule : divide the total watts of the lighting by the net liters of the aquarium and you get the so-called watt / liter ratio.i.

A relationship of 0.5-0.7 watt / liter is that of an average light. With a higher ratio say from 0.8 to 1 watt / liter we could afford to grow even the most demanding plants like thista Proserpinaca palustris.

Proserpinaca palustris 
Image from the AF forum article «Proserpinaca palustris A little red in the aquariumio»

If we do not have too demanding plants, we could also be satisfied with a lower ratio; it is still better do not go under the 0.3 watts / liter.

The watt / liter ratio indicated above does not make much sense in the case of led illumination . In this case it is advisable to consider the lumen / liter ratio , which we can obtain by dividing the total lumens of our lighting by the net liters of the aquarium. Good lighting will have a ratio of between 40 and 60 lumens / liters..

Carbon dioxide COCO2 )

There CO2 it is very important for plant growth; after water, carbon is its main component..
Many give up using it because a CO system2it can be expensive.Easy aquarium has several do-it-yourself plants extensively tested and that we can make with little expense.

For those wishing to grow CO-free plants2 we recommend choosing not too demanding species or letting them grow up to the surface . This is how many plants grow in their habitat, where no one releases CO2artificially.

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Another solution is to inserte Floating plants; these in fact absorb the CO2 directly from the outside air..

Fertilization

In addition to carbon, there are many other elements necessary to support the growth of our plants. In most cases, the leftover food from the fish, their droppings and dead leaves are not enough to feed the plants; it is therefore necessary to provide for one targeted fertilization .

Esempoio di carenza di potassio

Probably in the shop you will have proposed complex and expensive fertilization protocols, which require regular water changes to eliminate the inevitable excesses. Easy aquarium uses a method a separate components which therefore allows you to dose only what your plants really need, without excesses and learning to recognize the deficiencies they show.

Also, compared to commercial fertilization protocols, it is very economical. Those interested can learn more about the topic in these two articles of the forum mentioned above::

Fertilization, lighting and CO2  they go hand in hand and strongly depend on the plants we have chosen. For example, there is no point in having stadium lighting if you don't deliver COO2 and / or does not fertilize properly. There will always be a limiting factor that will prevent proper nutrient absorption, as Dr. Liebig : Liebig's Law or Liebig's Law of the Minimumg).

The Tanganyika and Malawi aquariums

After having told you about the importance of plants in the aquarium we see two exceptions to this rule..

THE Tanganyika and Malawi lakes they are respectively the second and third of the great African lakes after Lake Victoria.a.

Numerous species of cichlids live in their waters and spend their time mainly among the rocks of the bottom.

Allestire Acquario Tanganica

Image from the AF forum article «Aquarium for Tanganyika cichlids»

In the absence of plants, algae will help us keep the entire ecosystem stable; over time they will colonize all the furnishings and make a major contribution to the absorption of nitrate and phosphate pollutants. They will also make the setting more natural.turale.

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Malawi Aquarium

While strong lighting is not necessary, you will need to consider purchasing a powerful filter system that is oversized for the needs of the aquarium.o.

If you are interested you can find a lot of information on this type of set-up in the article described under the previous photos.

And now we fill it up…

Ah, yes! Water is also needed in the aquarium!a!

Yes, but what watera?

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Oops!

Have you wondered if the’Tap water: is it good or not for the aquariumo?

The answer is… It depends ! Each public water is different from the other..

Fortunately, just catch up the analyzes of our manager (which by law should be published online or reported on the bill to find out..

Esempio di analisi dell'acqua
Example of water analysisa

Once recovered, just check some parameters:

Calcium and magnesium : to determine GH as Calcium / 7.2 Magnesium / 4.3.4,3).

Bicarbonates : to determine the KH as bicarbonates / 21.8.

Sodium : we have already talked about it for the rocks collected by the sea, but why it is so important Sodium beyond certain thresholds makes it difficult for many plant species to absorb nutrientse (especially potassium). Having sodium within 10 mg / liter will allow us to avoid this inconvenience.

If you have any doubts the section Chemistry of the forum ofEasy aquarium will surely help you.

What if the tap water is not goode?

Many will advise you osmosis wateri (which can be bought in aquarium shops) with the addition of saltsi specific.
This solution, besides being particularly expensive, has the disadvantage that many of the salts on the market contain high amounts of sodium which, as we have seen, does not get along very well with our plants..

The simple and economical solution that we propose is to use the normal one natural mineral water of the supermarket.

There are all types of mineral waters on the market and therefore it will not be difficult to find the one with the values suitable for your needs. It doesn't need to be expensive, fish don't pay attention to certain things.

In any case, you can always mix tap or mineral water withn osmosis wateri , or simply with demineralized watera sold in the supermarket for the irons just thate is not scented). If you don't believe it, read this article byAF:Demineralized water in the aquarium.
They are practically identical and do not contain salts; they therefore allow us to lower the water values to bring them to the desired ones..

Attention : only use osmosis or demineralised water to fill the entire aquariumio that's no good. Being free of salts, these waters do not provide plants with any nutrients but they can also create problems for fish .

The shopkeeper told me that if I use certain products, I can put the fish in after a few days.

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But please me…

This is one of the most frequently heard statements; at the same time, it is one of the most wrong .

Before inserting the fish it is absolutely necessary wait for the filter to mature, and no product currently on the market can change this.
At most, the inclusion of the so-calledi bacterial activators it can anticipate maturation by a few days but at a cost of several euros. With some products there is also the risk of slowing it down, as they introduce the wrong bacteria..

Among the products sold as miraculous there is also thel water conditioner . This promises to remove chlorine from tap water and make the heavy metals in it harmless by binding them together..
All true but…

  • the chlorine evaporates on its own : just let the water settle for 24 hours before using it. Furthermore, since chlorine is dangerous for fish and not for plants, during maturation we absolutely do not have to worry about any chlorine in the aquarium.o.
  • to absorb heavy metals present in the water are the plants, for which they are precious nutrients..

It is therefore not necessary to purchase these products to be placed in the water. The money we save we can spend them otherwise

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… funnier!

The aquarium is startedo

The ripening

Once your aquarium is furnished and filled you don't have to do anything more : it's time to wait for the filter to mature.».

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Have a nice rest…

And what are we waiting for? nitrogen cycleo .

In every aquarium there are manure, leftover food, decaying leaves.
Exactly, yes de-compose , releasing the substances that made up this organic material, including nitrogeno .
Lazoto, thanks to bacteria, is transformed inton ammonia (NH3) and / or ammonium (NH4+). The percentage of ammonia is irrelevant if the pH is acidic below 7; it increases if the pH is neutral or basic 7 or higher.re).

The ammonium / ammonia is then transformed by the bacteriari Nitrosomonas – in nitrite (NO2), very toxic for fish: it binds to hemoglobin instead of oxygen preventing the animal from breathing.re.
Depending on the various species, the amount of nitrite tolerated varies; but we always speak of very low values, below 1 mg / liter if not less.

Fortunately, there are other bacteria(Nitrospira is Nitrobacter) which transform nitrite into nitrate (NO3), which is not toxic to fish, except at high levels.

For bacteria to form and this cycle to take place, you need to wait at least a month .

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Really?

If someone tells you that much less is enough, ignore it. In the forum ofi AF we witnessed the death by asphyxiation of too many fish placed too early in an aquarium that is not yet mature.

The first bacteria to work will be i Nitrosomonas. Consequently, after a few days, we will see a substantial increase in nitrites: it is what aquarists define as«peak».

Subsequently, i will get busyNitrobacter, which will begin to transform nitrites into nitrates.
We will therefore see a decrease in the former and an increase in the latter.
At a certain point the nitrites will no longer be detected by the tests: any dangerous nitrite will be immediately transformed into harmless nitrate.

When it happens, your filter will be matureo» .

For greater safety, we can throw a pinch of fish feed into the aquarium: if we see an increase in nitrates without the appearance of nitrites, we will have reached maturity.e».

Esempio Simplified example of nitrogen cycle click to enlargedire)

To learn more about the topic, we invite you to read the details on the Nitrogen cycle and biological filter in the aquariumo, an article always written byEasy aquarium.

The tests

Don't worry, don't be scared! We don't want you to buy dozens of tests and spend your little free time using them!

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But someone is needed.

During the ripening the useful ones are the following:

NO : it allows us to detect the nitrites present and therefore determine the peak.o».

NO : it is used to determine the quantity of nitrates present in the tank and therefore to establish whether the filter has begun to work correctly in the transformation of nitrites.

For these two tests exist both the strips and the reagents , even if the former are very imprecise and unreliable.

There are many users who have stored all their test tubes in the cellar and lead the aquariumo looking only at fish and plants . Our goal is the full knowledge of your aquarium, but at least at the beginning the tests help us to understand what happens and the variations in values that can be important..

And if you have any doubts, don't worry: we will help you!!

You can obviously consult the section Chemistry of the forum ofAF, where you will find all the information you need.

In addition to the above tests, it is desirable to be able to measure the following values .

pH : measures the basicity or acidity of water and can vary from 0 to 14. The value 7 indicates neutral water; lower values define acidic water, higher ones basic. There are reagents for pH measurement. You can also consider purchasing an electronic pH meter: it costs like a reagent test, but if well maintained it will last you much longer.ungo.

Tabella PH
PH levels

KH : measures the alkalinity of the water. It serves as an index of the carbonate hardness, i.e. the quantity of bicarbonates and carbonates dissolved in water. Its value is very important: the higher the KH, the more difficult it will be to lower the pHH (CO2, pH and KH: simple explanation of the buffer effecte). For the KH measurement we recommend using the reagent tests.

GH : measures the total hardness of water, given by the sum of calcium and magnesium. As with KH, the advice is to use the reagents..

LITTLE4 : indicates the quantity of phosphates present in the water. It is important for fertilization because the absence of phosphates prevents the absorption of various nutrients by plants. Soon you will come across this rule: phosphates must be in a 1:10 ratio with nitrates, that is, if I have nitrates at 10 mg / liter, then I should have phosphates at 1 mg / liter. It is a general rule and not valid for all aquariums; and above all it is not a goal to be achieved at any cost. For the measurement of phosphates there are only reagent tests.gente.

Conductivity : measures the salts dissolved in water and is a value that helps us a lot for fertilization(Use of the conductivity meter in the aquarium).

An electronic conductivity meter can be used for its measurement, available online between 10 and 15 euros.
It is not necessary to buy a precision instrument: we are not so interested in the conductivity value, as its variation.

For more details, please read this article byAF:Aquarium test.

We would like to emphasize one thing: tests are useful, but we don't have to be slaves to gods perfect values . The difference in one point of GH or KH, for example, makes no difference: what we use are little more than toys, not precision tools.

 

The algae

In the very first period of an aquarium's life algae are inevitable almost.

It is very important to remember that in the canonical month of maturation, the bacterial flora colonizes the filter. Subsequently, the same bacteria reach the rest of the aquarium and for this to happen it takes a few months..

In this period, when colonization is still not complete, it is possible that the dreaded algae arrive. Fundamental is don't panic .

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But don't wait to get to this point

Some algae, such as diatoms , they will go away by themselves: they are greedy for silicates and, when these are scarce, they will disappear by themselves.

The filamentous algae ,Oedogonium capillare, are also almost always present shortly after the installation. Their most important enemies are the bacteria of the nitrogen cycle and when these are scarce the filamentous ones have a great time.no.

The matter becomes more complex if we talk about cyanobacteria (which are not algae..

For a variety of reasons, a young aquarium can be invaded. There«dark therapy» it will exterminate them and, in the meantime, the bacterial flora will steal their space and nourishment.

By promoting plant growth, algae are hindered, as explained in this article AF:Plants against algae Examples with physicsa. Bacteria hinder algae even more; obviously if there is an adequate organic load in the aquarium.

Avoiding placing the aquarium in an area that is particularly exposed to sunlight will reduce the problems with algae. Generally speaking, remember that nothing is wasted. If there is nourishment in the water, someone will grab it.à.

According to the conditions we will create, the users can be plants, bacterial flora or algae. You will find a lot of useful information written by AF about algae in the article Algae in the aquarium: remedies against the most common species or by asking on the forum in the section dedicated to Algae and cyanobacteria.

The insertion of fishi

Here we are at the funniest stage, and more dangerous , of setting up an aquarium..
Dangerous because actually the first shingles for enthusiasm often arrive at this time. Even some of the authors of this article, after setting up the very first aquariums, had to deal withn some deaths in the very first days. In this paragraph we will try to understand how to reduce the risks.

First of all, having already planned the installation, you will go to the shopkeeper already with the clear ideas . It is very important, because those who choose fish only at the time of purchase almost always run into problems. Thousands of aquarists are looking for information on a small fish after purchasing it , discovering that it is unsuitable for their aquarium.

Secondly, it is good not to insert all the fish at once but to start with the smallest ones with a small number of specimens. In this way we will accustom the bacterial flora to the new organic load the fish poop without overloading it with work. By suddenly increasing the organic load we could have an increase in nitrites, with all the negative consequences.e.

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After a few days / a week proceed gradually with the insertion of the larger fish or increasing the number of those present..

Once home with the new tenants, it is time for the’acclimatization .

Your best bet would be to use one«quarantine tank», but not everyone has the opportunity, both in economic terms and in terms of space.

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No a glass is not good as a quarantine tank Not even as a tank for these goldfish!i!

First then we will try to uniform temperature and chemical parameters of water..

It's enough insert the bag into the aquariumo with the fish for about ten minutes. After this time we will open it and add a glass of aquarium water every 3 or 4 minutes. At a certain point, when the water added will be more than that already present in the bag, we will take the fish with the net or with our hands and we will release them in the tank. We will throw away any water left in the bag.o via.

By avoiding to put the shopkeeper's water in our aquarium we will reduce the risk of introducinge illnesses . Also, by doing this we will avoid exposing the fish to osmotic shocks . Sometimes the shopkeeper's water has a conductivity of about 3000 µS / cm, much higher than the 300-600 that you usually have in an aquarium!!

However, we invite you to read the articleo Insertion and quarantine of new fish of AF and ask for advice in the section of General aquariology always of theirs forum .

The management

Sooner or later, we will have to do some small maintenance. For some it is the most fun part of having an aquarium, for others the most boring..

Let's start with the most discussed topico…

… the water changea

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Let's assume that, in our opinion, changes must be made only when needed : there are no deadlines to meet or calendars to follow.
Simply, every now and then, you will check some parameters of the water: if something is altered it changes, if instead everything is stable. Nothing is done, even if you have not changed the water for three months!si!

In this regard you can read this article: Water change: necessary or superfluouso?

The parameters to be monitored with greater attention are nitrates is conductivity . The latter is very useful in planted aquariums, where it is possible that an increase in nitrates will never occur. An inexperienced aquarist would be led to believe that the water is still stable, but that is not necessarily the case. Most likely other substances have accumulated, such as sulfates or phosphates, which hardly measures anyone.. With a conductivity meter you will be able to detect a possible increase in all substances dissolved in water, even those that the common tests do not detect.

The amount of water to changee varies from aquarium to aquarium. You will have to calculate it in order to restore the altered parameters to the starting values. If, for example, the nitrates are at 50 mg / l and you want to reach 25 mg / l, you will have to change the 50 of the water, if the one you insert has nitrates at 0.0.

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When returning the water it is good to be carefula do not raise the bottom , for example by breaking the jet of water with your hand, or slowly pouring it into a container.nte.

Always try to bring the new water to one similar temperature to that of the aquarium and ofi introduce it slowly so as not to suddenly change the conditions that could lead to stress for the fish.
To heat the water, simply use a small heater to be inserted in the gearbox, or place it in front of the heaters during the winter.o.

Another controversial topic is…

… the bottom siphon

Decaying substances such as dead plant leaves accumulate on the bottom making it dirty.co».

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This is why most aquarists believe the bottom siphon fundamental, like water changes..

Yet that slime that we would like to eliminate penetrates into the substrate providing valuable nutrients at the roots. Nutrients we should add artificially to a planted aquarium.

Let's consider though an extreme case :

  • fauna composed of crucian carp, or other fish that produce a high organic load;
  • few plants in poor condition;
  • scheduled water changes («The shopkeeper told me that every 15 days I have to make a change…»).

Nitrates will be more or less under control, but fish manure remains on the bottom to form a good substrate for bacterial proliferation which can even become dangerous .

Also in this case, it cannot be generalized : it is necessary to evaluate each situation in its complexity. In a balanced aquarium the siphon is not necessary because the fish waste is a wealth for the plants, and vice versa. In this article byAF you can find a simple description of what we mean:Aquarium management Examples with Physicsa.

There are on the market electric siphons that allow not to remove the water during this operation: the water is sucked, passes through a net that holds the debris and reintroduced into the aquarium.o.

Sifone fondo per acquari
Vacuum cleaner bell

As an alternative there are the classic vacuum cleaner bells that you can find for a few euros, like the one shown in the figure.
In this case, the water change is added to the bottom siphon since it is removed and not reintroduced so take this into consideration if you use them..

In any case, these bells can be used to top up the evaporated water..

A separate discussion, which generally finds everyone more or less in agreement, must instead be done forr…

… the filter

As we have seen, the filter is made up of different materials, which perform different functions and require diversified maintenance.

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  • Perlon wool for mechanical filtration: being the first layer encountered by the water flow, it also has the task of retaining the coarser debris that run around the tank. When it is so dirty that it prevents the passage of water, it can be rinsed in a basin with a little water from the aquarium, or replaced.uita.
  • Sponges for mechanical / biological filtration : if placed after perlon wool they tend to get less dirty. Also in this case, when we notice a significant reduction in the flow rate, we can remove them and rinse them in a basin with a little water from the aquarium. If there are several sponges, it is advisable to rinse them one at a time so as not to completely eliminate the bacteria present.ti.
  • Razor clams for biological filtration : they are the home of the bacteria that allow the nitrogen cycle. They should never be touched or cleaned; if we did, we would eliminate most of the bacteria present and risk a new nitrite spike. In fact, we have learned that not all bacteria are badi…
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We are not trueo…

Diseases of fishes

Of course we hope that your fish will always remain healthy but, like all animals, they too they can get sick .

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Maybe this fish has something wrong with it poor fellowno)

The topic is very vast and we cannot deal with it exhaustively in this little space. However, know that,, on the AF forum , there are experts who can help you in case of any fish diseases.

What interests us is to understand Why fish can get sick.

Sometimes it happens to buy fish that are already sick, or so debilitated that they get sick and die after entering the aquarium. But this happens after a few days or weeks; if more time passes, the cause is to be found elsewhere. And many times the cause of their illness depends on our management..

If you think about curing the disease without worrying about why the fish got sick, probably  he will get sick again .

Prevention is the best cure: most diseases can be cured by observing the fish, interpreting their behavior and making them live in conditions similar to those of their habitat. If we keep them in unsuitable conditions we do nothing but increase their stress; this leads to a lowering of the immune defenses and a higher risk of diseases..

Overpopulation of the aquarium, inadequate water chemical values, absence of shelters, incorrect feeding and high organic load areno the most common causes of stress for fish.

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One of the main reasons for malaise and illness ...

Under these conditions, fish are more prone to disease.
Let's see the main ones:

Bacteriosis(Chondrococcus) : usually occurs in the form of white spots accompanied by a corrosion of the fins. It is a bacterium normally present in aquariums but harmless to healthy fish, with good immune defenses. Being a very rapid course of infection, it can lead to death within hours..

Filamentous stools : they are the symptom of an intestinal infection usually associated with an inadequate diet.a.

White, dull and / or bulging eyes : these are symptoms of an infection caused by water that is too soft for the species.

White spot disease(Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) It is perhaps one of the most widespread diseases and is caused by a tiny parasite that uses the tissues of aquatic animals to grow and feed. Infested animals show the appearance of white dots on the body.

If you suspect your fish is sick do not panic but try to intervene as soon as possible.

If you can, remove the sick fish immediately from the aquarium; for this purpose, any plastic tray even of a few liters is fine..

In this way not only contamination is avoided other fish, but also the administration of medicines in the aquarium. These are substances that we will then have to eliminate with the use of activated carbon and with water changes.a.

And now have fun!!

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If you've made it this far, your first aquarium is now underway. You just have to relax and enjoy the results you have achieved. Let us remind you that it must be a passion, not a job .

This is our spirit and forumEasy aquarium, who wrote and created this article, to which we invite you to register for free.

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